MARCH 10, 2016: After months of uncertainty it appears that Clive Palmer’s wheeling and dealing has failed, and the jobs of the remaining 550 workers at his Townsville nickel refinery will go. This painfully long and complex game will affect many workers in my electorate who live in the southern suburbs of Townsville and in the Burdekin.
Only a matter of days ago Mr Palmer promised Queensland Nickel workers they would have continued employment under a new company structure.
It seems his promise was based on a swap of management contracts.
Mr Palmer had contracts with Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd for the operations and management of the nickel refinery. He has now severed that contract with Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd and set up contracts with a new entity, Queensland Nickel Sales Pty Ltd.
However the new entity is missed critical elements for operation, as I understand it has no approval under any environmental authority, and no licence to run the refinery.
Meanwhile, Queensland Nickel has been left with nothing to do. Its contracts have been severed, and therefore the company has to sack 550 workers.
Mr Palmer made some big promises and now needs to come good with those promises. If he doesn’t, the blame for hundreds of job losses will lay fairly and squarely at Clive Palmer’s feet.
He needs to renegotiate with Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd, or get the necessary authorities in place so that Queensland Nickel Sales Pty Ltd can operate the refinery.
Whatever the means, the best outcome will be to ensure these workers remain in a job and are not left stranded by the machinations of the man at the helm of this troubled operation.
Regardless of what happens, I want to assure workers that the Federal Government offers assistance for workers to secure their entitlements and to undertake retraining.
The General Employee Entitlements & Redundancy Scheme – GEERS – provides assistance for people owed certain outstanding employee entitlements following the liquidation or bankruptcy of employers through the Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG).
There is also Federal funding of $500,000 for career transitioning assistance through the jobactive employment programme, and the new “What’s Next” self-help resources website.